Barnes & Noble on Monday announced that Carl Hauch has been named vice president of stores, effective immediately. Hauch will be responsible for the entire retail store organization and profitable growth of the business, driving sales, training, developing talent and recruitment, reporting directly to CEO Demos Parneros, according to a company press release.
Hauch most recently was chief operating officer at walk-in clinic network CityMD and has more than 20 years of global experience in the direct-to-consumer industry, starting his career at Starbucks in 1994, according to Barnes & Noble.
Last month, Barnes & Noble’s reported a 6.3% decline in total sales for the fourth quarter and a 6.5% drop for its full fiscal year; same-store sales also fell 6.3% in both periods. The company did beat Wall Street expectations though, and saw improvements in some areas with online sales increasing by 2.9% in the fourth quarter and 3.7% for the year, as well as an improvement in net loss of $13.4 billion compared to last year’s $30.6 billion.
Despite continued strength in brick-and-mortar bookselling, Barnes & Noble has continued to struggle and has undergone a series of executive shake-ups, including electing four CEO’s in as many years. Still, its latest quarter indicated there's some light at the end of the tunnel and current CEO Demos Parneros last month expressed his determination to continue on that path in the new fiscal year. That will now include a boost from Hauch.
“He is an accomplished leader with a proven track record for driving results, and he is an important appointment as we position the company for future growth,” Parneros said in a statement.
He has his work cut out for him, as the company attempts to shift from a former reliance on coloring books which boosted sales of art supplies and new music. The bookstore chain early this year said that holiday sales suffered from lower store traffic and a decline in demand for the once-hot coloring books for grownups. Barnes & Noble also blamed the absence of new music from British singer-songwriter Adele: Her third studio album "25," issued in November 2015, become the largest-selling CD in the retailer’s history.
Barnes & Noble is planning an elevated restaurant concept for four of its stores, another effort launched under CEO Ronald Boire, who left the position last August after less than a year. That kind of differentiation of the shopping experience will ultimately serve many retailers better than leaning on e-commerce growth, which carries with it complicated and expensive logistics that hit margins, Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, told Retail Dive last year:
“I know that there are two parts of retail that cannot be duplicated on the internet: One is food and dining, and the other is entertainment.”